New series from Netflix provides a brilliant insight into a mind of a broken teenager and circumstances that brought to her suicide. As I have written in my previous blog (see here), “the series portrays a life of a high school girl Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) who committed a suicide. Hannah experienced some of the things that many teenagers experience, i.e. false rumors, bullying, betrayal, and public shaming. What is distinctive about this series is that Hannah makes a series of cassettes before she dies. The cassettes are aimed at all of her high school peers who hurt her feelings and made her commit a suicide. Each cassette and each side of the cassette feature one person and their impact on her welbeing, and Hannah orders peers to pass cassettes to the next peer as each peer completes listening. She made it clear that a trusted person has copies and if peers fail to comply and listen to cassettes as well as pass them on, all cassettes will be made public”.
After learning initial reasons of why Hannah Baker committed a suicide by listening to first few tapes she left as her legacy in first five episodes I already described in my previous blog (see here), in the remaining part of the series (episodes 6 to 13) we get an in-depth insight into events that lead to teenager’s suicide.
With the exception of an assault by a rich football captain, all other things could be seen as minor issues that majority of high school teenagers experience. However, when a line of events (even minor ones) is put together in a whole picture then we can also understand how little things can make a difference, and lead to positive but also tragic consequences.
Ultimately, this series is about loneliness, rejection and (the lack of) kindness. If peers were not so mean to Hannah and if she was not ostracized she would not feel so rejected and lonely. Then she would not overreact even to little things and she would not feel like she is only a burden to everyone. She would not feel like nobody loves her, and that she is not worth loving. Maybe a chain of bad events that were following her would get broken.
While the series becomes depressing as it moves forward, it also becomes more addictive for a viewer is able to truly immerse in the events that lead to Hannah’s suicide. The series is also very picturesque in a sense it shows everything and hides absolutely nothing.
Nevertheless, the story is also educational and as such should really be a mandatory material for watching in schools. Many have been bullied in schools or someone has hurt their feelings in different ways. However, while majority overcomes the problem and moves forward there are simply people who don’t and they either end up with life-long traumas or fail to cope altogether and commit a suicide.
With some kindness and consideration, as this series shows us by depicting 13 reasons why Hannah committed a suicide, these misfortunate events could be stopped for majority of teenage bullies do not truly expects consequences nor do they think someone can get that broken to commit a suicide because of the way they are treated by their peers.
Finally, the series brings some serious criticism of the high school bullying culture and failure of the education system to not only tackle this bullying by pretending it does not exist, but also by failing to react when it became painfully obvious that things are not going well. Indeed, if a teacher reads a suicidal poem written by a pupil it should come naturally to launch an investigation and try to discover who the author was. In addition, if a pupil comes to councilor and says she does not see a reason to do anything and that she does not feel anything anymore, admits an assault by a colleague even if afraid to say who that person was, a reaction of some sort would be natural. Not a reaction to say either say the name and we will launch a legal action or get on with it. This is not to say that all teachers and councilors are bad and lack any empathy for their students. While some may be like that, there is certainly an element of a burden placed on teaching staff.
Either way, the education system indeed needs to change, but we also need to change. Kindness sometimes truly seem like a forgotten virtue. This thoughtful series portrays that brilliantly.
Thank you for reading.